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Residents Say Ordeal Will Bind Neighborhood With AM-Well-Rescue

October 15, 1987

MIDLAND, Texas (AP) _ Volunteer rock-busters and concerned onlookers gathered Thursday in the backyards of a neighborhood that some said would be drawn closer together by a toddler trapped in a dry well.

Jessica McClure tumbled into the narrow well Wednesday morning, and workers pounded through solid rock in the attempt to rescue her.

″I was here at 6 last night and they were saying three or four more hours. Now they’re still saying three or four more hours,″ said Carol Davis, a neighborhood resident and mother of six. ″I don’t know these people, but it’s really been emotional for me. I slept very little last night because I am very concerned.″

The hum of generators used to power the digging equipment droned on Thursday afternoon. The clatter of air hammers could not be heard above ground.

Larry Boler, a local rock-drilling contractor who worked in the rescue hole, said the rock, especially near the little girl, was challenging.

″It’s getting harder,″ he said after coming up from his shift in the hole.

Neighbor Marie Tetronella said she remained with the McClure family overnight.

″When I left this morning, the kids (McClures) were numb. They didn’t think it was going to take so long,″ she said.

Margie Lunsford, 58, who lives five houses away, said the ordeal would bind the neighborhood in a closeness it hadn’t felt before.

″We’re a close neighborhood already,″ she said. ″We don’t visit in one another’s home, but most of us walk for our health and we visit in the yards.

″All of these mothers are going to have some results from this,″ she told the Odessa American earlier. ″A little more protective. Young mothers, especially. That uncapped well should have been capped by the proper authorities.″

Welders set up trucks at the scene to help with the equipment, some of it damaged by the hard rock. Red Cross and Salvation Army crews passed out food and drink to workers and reporters, and some food was donated by two fast-food restaurants.

A large crowd of reporters set up shop in an adjoining backyard, some using tall ladders to see over the wooden fence that separated them from the hole where the girl was trapped.

Spectators said it was not difficult to understand the family’s fears.

″Pure hell,″ Mrs. Davis said.

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